“It’ll let us manage the increased data over the next five years,” said Ralph Szygenda, GM’s chief information officer. The pact will increase GM’s productivity, he said. GM employees eventually will have the same telecommunications tools no matter where they are in the world, including common conferencing and voice-mail abilities. Because of the network, GM officials expect the quality to be the same in other countries as it is at Detroit headquarters. The contract is just a small portion of AT&T’s revenue, which amounted to $63.1 billion last year. But AT&T officials hope the experience will help generate more business as other companies recognize the need to electronically link global operations, said Ron Spears, executive vice president of AT&T’s global business sales. “Many are starting to follow the path of recognizing the need to globalize business practices,” he said. Under the contract, AT&T also will manage all of GM’s telecommunications suppliers around the world, making sure that communications are standardized. DETROIT – Five years ago, General Motors Corp.’s worldwide telecommunications system was a laggard in the company’s fledgling effort to globalize vehicle design, engineering and manufacturing. It took at least an hour for an engineer in Europe to send a large computerized design file to a manufacturing plant overseas. It took another hour for the plant to send the file back with any changes. Now, as the company moves toward savings billions of dollars by building more models in more places off the same underpinnings, GM and AT&T Inc. have a network in place that allows engineers and plant officials worldwide to simultaneously view the same data simultaneously and discuss it. On Wednesday, GM gave AT&T even more business, awarding a five-year, $1 billion global networking contract that will prepare the world’s largest automaker for whatever electronic breakthroughs lie ahead. The pact renews an earlier GM contract with AT&T, but company officials would not disclose the value of that agreement. Kent Custer, a telecommunications-industry analyst with A.G. Edwards & Sons in St. Louis, said the new deal is the biggest of its type for AT&T so far. For GM, he said such technology can achieve productivity gains. “There’s a lot of opportunity for management to increase productivity and reduce costs by doing deals with this,” Custer said. AT&T shares fell 15 cents, or 0.4 percent, to close Wednesday at $37.21 on the New York Stock Exchange. GM shares fell 58 cents, or 1.6 percent, to close at $35.37 on the NYSE.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!